rules-and-procedure

Opinion: Why HELP Could Be on the Way for Obamacare Recipients
Hopeful signs of bipartisan consensus on fixing health care markets

Senate HELP Committee leaders Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray could help spear bipartisan consensus in Congress for a short-term fix for Americans struggling to afford health insurance, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lamar Alexander had barely announced his plans to hold hearings next month on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on stabilizing the insurance markets for Obamacare when the idea started getting panned.

Keep in mind there are no specific hearings scheduled yet, no witnesses, no bill written, and few parameters of what is on or off the table. Alexander, the committee chairman, has only said that he wants a final product to be “small, bipartisan, and balanced,” but he hasn’t said what that means, other than flexibility for states and short-term triage for the exchanges.

John McCain’s Dramatic ‘No’ Vote Derails GOP Health Care Effort
Senate rejects Republicans’ ‘skinny’ repeal bill, 49-51

From left, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson hold a press conference to demand assurances on the “skinny” health care repeal bill in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:10 a.m. | In a dramatic early Friday morning vote, the Senate voted down the Republican effort to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system, 49-51, with GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona’s dramatic “no” — to gasps in the chamber — providing the key vote to send the bill to defeat.

Lobbying from top GOP leaders, McCain’s colleague from Arizona Jeff Flake, Vice President Mike Pence and a swath of Republicans were not enough to sway McCain. Pence himself spent more than 20 minutes trying to get McCain to change his mind.

‘Skinny’ Obamacare Repeal Bill Takes Shape
Language still fluid hours before an expected vote

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, right, says repealing the individual and employer mandates in the 2010 health care law unites the GOP conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A “skinny” bill to repeal portions of the 2010 health care law crafted by Senate Republican leadership behind closed doors is starting to take shape, but the language remains fluid hours before an expected vote on the measure.

The current proposal would repeal the individual mandate, partially repeal the employer mandate and defund Planned Parenthood for one year, a Senate GOP aide said.

Some GOP Skepticism of Sending Obamacare Repeal to Conference
Questions about what the ‘skinny’ bill would produce

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has some concerns about what may happen when the House and Senate go to conference on health care. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Several senators are expressing skepticism about the emerging Republican plan to pass a bill rolling back “skinny” pieces of the 2010 health care law and then hope for a broader agreement in a conference committee with the House.

Kansas Republican Jerry Moran, who was one of the senators who came out against the broader Senate health care bill, told Roll Call he is concerned about entering a conference without a real Senate position.

Schumer Warns Trump Against Trying to Replace Sessions With Recess Appointment
New York Democrat made remarks on the floor

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is warning against recess appointments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not even stepped aside, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is already warning President Donald Trump against attempting a recess appointment of a replacement in August.

On the floor Tuesday, the New York Democrat said that members of his caucus were prepared to use every means available to prevent a recess appointment to replace Sessions during the break. That likely means the Senate will technically be in session throughout the month, even after the chamber’s scheduled already-extended time in Washington, D.C.

McCain Diagnosis Puts Health Care Effort in More Jeopardy
Corker: ‘Obviously, it makes things difficult’

Arizona Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor diagnosis puts greater stress on the Senate’s already strained health care efforts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

By MARY ELLEN McINTIRE and JOE WILLIAMS

Abrupt news that Arizona Sen. John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer sent shock waves through an all-Republican meeting late Wednesday on the health care effort. Amid words of concern and encouragement for their GOP colleague, lawmakers acknowledged the difficulty his extended absence would place on the effort to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system.

John Bush Nomination Exposes Partisan Divide
Kentucky jurist’s anonymous blog posts brings up questions of temperament

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein are not on the same page when it comes to the nomination of John Bush to the federal bench. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The nomination of John Bush to be a federal appellate court judge underscores how swiftly Senate Republicans can help President Donald Trump reshape the nation’s courts in a conservative direction.

Bush, nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday on a 51-48 vote. Democrats now have an opportunity to air their concerns on the floor ahead of a final confirmation vote later this week.

Critics From All Sides Hammer McConnell
Politicians and pundits criticize majority leader’s legislative tactics

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellhas come under criticism from all sides after he was forced to scuttle the GOP repeal-and-replace bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing mounting criticism from politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle after the collapse of his chamber’s Republican health care legislation.

Before the bill was pulled Monday night, Sen. Ron Johnson told a local newspaper that McConnell’s conflicting statements to different members of his caucus were a “significant breach of trust.”

Mitch McConnell’s Plan B on Health Care Appears Dead
Murkowski joins Collins and Capito to oppose proceeding on measure

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowskisays she would vote against the current GOP repeal-only plan, giving opponents the necessary votes to block the measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not have the votes necessary to pass a bill to repeal portions of the 2010 health care law, the Kentucky Republican’s “Plan B” following the failure of the GOP plan to overhaul the U.S. health insurance markets.

Three Republican senators — Maine’s Susan Collins, West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski — have all stated their intentions to vote against a procedural motion that would allow McConnell to bring up a 2015 measure that would end the law’s Medicaid expansion and repeal other portions of it starting in two years.

Analysis: Chances for Budget Through Regular Order Shaky
Shell budget may be needed to set up reconciliation process for tax overhaul

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has few viable paths to passing a budget resolution needed to set up the reconciliation process for a tax overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans are readying for a possible floor vote on a fiscal 2018 budget resolution as soon as next week, but with support for the plan currently shy of the 218 votes needed, action could be delayed weeks or even months.

After more than a month of negotiations, the House Budget Committee will mark up the fiscal blueprint on Wednesday. Floor action before the August recess appears to be the goal, and with several conservatives and moderates withholding support, that’s a target leaders will likely miss.